07 October 2010

Marketing to the Right Audience

I've always found visits to the supermarket utterly engaging. Whether it is observing a single man's auto-pilot mode when it comes to grocery shopping or finding out about that product that seems to have hit the sweet-spot-need-state that the category leader has failed to tap - there's always something new to learn during a visit to the supermarket.

On a recent visit to the supermarket, I managed to take this picture without getting thrown out of yet another supermarket.

This is a picture of 2 Korean Nationals buying not 1 or 2, but 54 bars of Himalaya Moisturizing Almond soap. They were initially looking for Medimix soaps but since the retailer had only one Medimix soap bar, the retailer convinced them to pick up Himalaya Moisturizing Almond soaps instead.

Why did they buy 54 of these?
Apparently, because they don't get these products back in Korea. They weren't specifically looking for Himalaya soaps but for any "ethnic" soap with "natural" ingredients. It's not just Koreans... The other day I spoke to an American woman picking up a Chandrika soap who gave me the same reasoning. Well, not the same - she was taking the soap back to the States not Korea.

I remember in the '90s, perhaps even in the '80s, NRIs used to bring Yardley perfumes and talcum powders for their families in India. Seems like, with enough proliferation of foreign nationals in India - the reverse is happening.

The home-grown products and brands that we tend to take for granted in India - some of which are considered "down-market" by some Indian consumers - are the very products that foreign nationals find attractive. The neglected "ethnic" brands would do well to ask themselves the question:
Are we marketing to the right audience?
A change in distribution strategy might not only increase sales, but might also pull-up the imagery of the brands in question.

This effect of an Indian Marketer's products appealing to a foreign audience isn't necessarily restricted to beauty products and "ethnic" brands per se. Food and apparel could well be other categories where this effect could be evident.

So, are you marketing to the right audience?


  1. Pradeep GangadharanOctober 13, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Very interesting read.

    I believe FMCG companies look at the total potential size of a segment for a certain product before including them into the overall marketing plan.

    The Koreans / Americans / any other group for a Himalaya / Chandrika brand is so small a target that it would not be worth marketing the product to them. These customers lie outside the bulk of the customer segment that the company markets to.

    For example, Intel's XEON-based high-end servers may be marketed to large MNCs. But there will definitely be the one-off small business house that would be owning one of these servers...

    As long as the segments are small, as a marketer, I would not market specifically for them - at least when I have a 'limited budget' for marketing. But the day they cross a threshold size (different for different companies - is also based on category and market the company is in), marketing to the specific segment becomes a priority.

  2. Currently the packaging strategy of most of the indigeous "do good" skin care brands are very simple and "un-cosmetic", so to say. This worked very well before when they cued naturals or ayurveda which stood for no nonsense, no artificiality.

    However, the lines between care, naturals and cosmeticity are fast blurring and packaging these indigeous brands in a more "aesthetic" manner by infusing more contemporary beauty codes would not only position them as premium beautycare brands but also attract a bevy of consumers who currently consider them "old" or "not for me".

  3. hi sudarshan,first of all its gr8 that u were able to take a snap in a supermarket!!! the topic which u hav handled is nice ,i always had this question especially regarding 'VICCO'.If m not wrong Vicco products are not available in supermarkets.Infact their packaging and ads are same as those were 15yrs ago..it is a big challenge for such products as to whom should they target..lets c...

  4. @Pradeep: I'm not suggesting that marketers make that decision solely on a Korean picking up the brands in question. Only meant it as a question to be considered. As marketers, we might even be losing out on a larger market by neglecting what seems to be a smaller market now. Brilliant example of this would be an HSBC ad with the washing machine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI2VmTRR4-E

  5. @Akshay: I believe that a brand like VICCO hasn't reinvented itself largely because it has a steady loyal consumer base who buy their product for a variety of reasons and does not want to alienate these consumers. Also, that VICCO isn't available in a supermarket or modern retail isn't entirely true. I picked up a VICCO Turmeric from a Health & Glow last week.

  6. @Babita: You're right. One could take a leaf from Wipro Consumer Care regarding this. On one hand, they have a Chandrika for the already existing loyal audience and they are revitalizing Santoor in a big way for those who consider Chandrika as "not for me" or too "old".